Karlsruhe. Following extensive reviews of the commercial efficiency of its conventional power plant park, EnBW plans to shut down a total of four power plant units with a total output of 668 MW at its power plant locations in Marbach and Walheim. The Supervisory Board of EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG has today approved a corresponding resolution proposal put forward by the EnBW Board of Management. This resolution, which was today communicated to the transmission system operators (TSOs) and the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), comprises the formal precondition for the TSOs to conduct a system security review as to whether and when the power plant units can be shut down.
Rapid structural change in the energy sector forms the background to this decision. Especially as a result of the marked additional construction of renewable energy sources, numerous fossil plant are exposed to great commercial and financial pressure, and frequently continue to be operated solely as "marginal power plants". This is resulting in a drastic fall in revenue. Especially gas power stations but also older coal power plants and oil-fired systems can no longer cover their full costs given today's electricity market prices, and can consequently not be operated on a commercially viable basis.
For this reason, the heating oil-fired co-generation unit III and gas turbine II at the Marbach site and hard coal power stations 1 and 2 in Walheim are to be shut down at the earliest legally possible date. This represents a final shutdown of the plants in the meaning of the German Energy Industry Act (EnWG) and the German Reserve Power Plant Directive (ResKV). The plants that are affected currently employ around 100 staff for whom socially acceptable personnel measures are being developed.
The amended German Energy Industry Act (EnWG) and the German Reserve Power Plant Directive (ResKV) make provision whereby final shutdowns must be announced at least 12 months in advance to the relevant transmission system operator and the Federal Network Agency. In the next step, the TSO then examines the power plants' system relevance, and determines the timing of the shutdown in coordination with the Federal Network Agency. System-relevant power plants can be included in the network reserve of the German Reserve Power Plant Directive with corresponding payment until their final shutdown.
EnBW is in discussions with the Federal Network Agency concerning the relatively new and flexibly deployable RDK 4 gas and steam turbine power plant in Karlsruhe. RDK 4 is currently hardly being utilised, and is consequently also unable to cover its full costs. As far as potential changes to market design are concerned, the potential of a later recommissioning is to be left open. EnBW aims to shut down the plant on a short-term and provisional basis as a consequence.
EnBW currently operates total output of around 4,290 MW from conventional power plants located in Baden-Württemberg. In addition, the highly modern RDK 8 hard coal power plant in Karlsruhe with around 900 MW is currently in the commissioning stage. In Mannheim, a further hard coal power plant (GKM 9) – in which EnBW also holds an interest – is being constructed. As a consequence, EnBW's conventional power plant park continues to make an important contribution to securing supplies in Baden-Württemberg even after the planned shutdowns.
Along with the massive expansion of renewable energies – whose share in EnBW's energy mix is to be more than tripled by 2020 – EnBW remains committed as part of its strategic reorientation to providing secured output from conventional power plants with a focus on Baden-Württemberg. At least for a certain transitional period, the secure and highly efficient operation of the conventional generating park remains an important element of the "Engine room of the new energy concept" and a guarantee of supply security.
Generating electricity in power plants critically affected by economic efficiency factors that are reflected in the so-called Merit Order. The Merit Order is an order determined by variable costs, essentially fuel and CO2 costs, and sets out which power plants are deployed from what price. Renewable generation is deployed preferentially in this context, followed by plants with the lowest variable costs, until power plants are added until the requisite output is covered. The last power plant traded on the market ("marginal power plant") consequently determines the electricity price with its variable costs. This gives rise to the following deployment sequence: generating plants in the renewable energies area followed by nuclear power plants, brown coal power plants, hard coal power plants, gas and finally oil-fired power plants. If sufficient wind is blowing and the sun is shining at a given time during the day, power plants with higher variable costs in the Merit Order are replaced, and stand idle as a consequence.
Information about the power plants:
Marbach co-generation unit III: Heating oil-fired, steam turbine III 262 MW/Gas turbine III 85 MW, commissioned 1975
Marbach gas turbine II: Heating oil-fired, 77 MW, commissioned 1971
Walheim hard coal power plant unit 1: 96 MW, commissioned 1964
Walheim hard coal power plant unit 2: 148 MW, commissioned 1967